Nothing refreshes better than a fruity popsicle after waking from a nap. A jolt of sugar erases the fuzziness from my head and revs me up for the next few hours of entertaining Elsa. Even if Elsa doesn't finish her paleta, that's Mexican for popsicle--a popsicle made from fresh fruit, mind you, not made from artificial ingredients like what we find in most grocer's freezer's--and I have to eat it, I know that it's made from basic ingredients and I don't worry about over-indulging.
Fany Gerson's Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice, & Aguas de Frescas is awesome. Who knew how simple it was to make fresh fruit popsicles in your own kitchen? So yeah, I'll probably buy an occasional pint of Ben & Jerry's, even though their flavors oddly disappoint me lately, but Gerson's flavor combinations in Paletas has me so excited that I can't wait to whip up batches and batches of paletas and to develop combos of my own.
Ian flipped through the book, too. He liked the pineapple and chile paleta and also inquired about a banana paleta. Gerson includes one, but you bake the banana, or plantain--you can use either--first for the best flavor. The yogurt and blueberry--or maybe it was blackberries (I don't have the book in front of me)--looked awesome, too. So they're not strictly fruit, or acidic based paleta recipes, they're also cream-based as well.
And one of the most intriguing recipes of all is the avocado paleta. Can't wait to do that one.
The first order of business was finding popsicle molds. Gerson suggests using shot glasses or any kind of receptacle you have on hand, and I saw Loaf Pan Popsicles two days ago, so really, you can use almost anything imaginable.
I won't share the recipe here (actually, it's listed at the publisher's website), but the ingredients for the strawberry paletas in Gerson's book were: Strawberries, sugar, water, and lemon. You slice and hull the strawberries, cover them in sugar, let the sugar soak, then cook them on the stove for five minutes, then blend together in a blender or food processor. Next, fill your molds and freeze for four to five hours. So simple. Wow.
And, Elsa helped. Loud noises, thunderstorms, motor-bikes, the vacuum cleaner, and the like bother her, so when I nudged the "blend" button, Elsa stuck her fingers in her ears. Otherwise, she was all over the strawberries--from sprinkling them with sugar to sampling them and helping with each step in the paleta-making process.
Paleta making is a perfect endeavor for parents to guide their child, or children, in building their kitchen skills. And so, we started with paletas, but have so much more in Gerson's book to discover. Much like her previous book on Mexican sweets, My Sweet Mexico, this one is an excellent resource. Though its scope is limited to icy treats, think iceberg. Think Titanic.
Its design is divine. The photography is charming and perfect and inviting and brings a warmth to an otherwise chilly subject. And, drat, since I don't have the book in front of me, I can't look at the publication credits and list whose responsible for such marvelous work.
In her introduction Gerson spells out the history of paletas, and talks about their role in Mexican street culture. I love learning those chunks of information, as well her personal relationship with paletas and how she established her paleta company La Newyorkina.
Instead of buying one of those ridiculously expensive popsicle machines or ice cream machines this summer, you should grab a copy of Paletas from your public library or buy a copy and make them old school in your old shot glasses with wooden popsicle sticks (I bought a bag of fifty of those so we can experiment with what glasses we have on hand).